Although not quite the slugfest that last night’s game was, tonight, once again, the promised pitcher’s duel failed to materialize.
Last night there were sixteen runs, fifteen of those by the Astros. Tonight there were fourteen runs, only eight by the Stros. But it goes in the books as another win, their sixth in a row
Gerrit Cole allowed four runs tonight, the most he has allowed in a game since July 12th. Since as far back as May 27th, Cole’s ERA has been 1.84.
There was a little hard luck involved. In the second inning the Rays scored without getting a hit. Ji-Man Choi walked, then advanced to second on a balk, then advanced to third on a wild pitch, and then scored on a sacrifice fly. The other two outs in the inning were victims of Cole strikeouts.
In the fourth inning the Rays scored two on a Choi two run home run, but the runner in front of Choi got on a with a ground ball single that could have been stopped by third baseman Aledmys Diaz.
The Rays scored their fourth run against Cole in the seventh after Cole allowed a lead-off triple to Joey Wendle, followed by an RBI single by Jesus Aguilar.
But even if Cole allowed four runs, a bad outing for him, he still appeared his normal dominant self. He gave up only six hits and a walk in 6.2 innings while recording 14 strikeouts to re-take the league lead from Justin Verlander. Out of 112 pitches, Cole had 78 strikes, 24 of those whiffs. It was the 15th time this year Cole has exceeded 10 strikeouts, an Astros record.
Most of the game Cole was pitching from behind, until the fourth inning when the Astros tied the score at three. Jose Altuve opened the frame with a double, and then scored on an Alex Bregman single. With two outs Yuli Gurriel tied the score with a home run to right field, his 27th, and team leading 95th RBI.
The Astros took a 6-4 lead in the seventh when Yuli Gurriel, who walked to open the inning, scored on a Aledmys Diaz double. Diaz was out at third when the next batter, Martin Maldonado, grounded into a fielder’s choice, Maldonado advanced to second on a Jake Marisnick single, and then scored on a George Springer pop single to shallow right field. The Rays gifted the final run to the Astros that inning when Jose Altuve ground into what looked like an inning ending double play, but instead the Raya shortstop overthrew first base, allowing Marisnick to score the third run of the inning.
The Astros added two more important insurance runs in the eighth when Alex Bregman led off the inning with a double, followed by a Yordan Alvarez single that advance Bregman to third. After an intentional walk to Aledmys Diaz loaded the bases, Martin Maldonado singled home Bregman on a 3-2 count. With the bases still loaded, the final Astros run scored on a walk to Springer.
Alex Bregman was 3 for 4 tonight with two doubles. He has raised his batting average to .290, with 30 doubles, 32 home runs, and 91 RBI. Since August 1st, he is hitting .405 with 12 doubles, a triple, six homers, and a 234 wRC+. All while playing shortstop and third base. MVP anyone? Oh yeah, Trout.
After Cole’s departure in the seventh inning Will Harris pitched 1.1 perfect innings with three strikeouts.
In the ninth Roberto Osuna, in a non-save situation allowed two runs on a Willy Adames homer. But he retired the next two batters and preserved the 8-6 Astros win.
The Rays are going to wish they hadn’t come to Houston. Tomorrow the Rays send To Be Determined to face Zack Greinke.
It's an early game. 1:10 CDT.